Subsea inspection robot

La French Fab positions itself to lead the subsea inspection robotics market

Subsea inspection robot
Underwater robot. The seabed is the next playground for French industry.

From the inspection of ships’ hulls to scientific research, underwater works and the surveillance of offshore installations, subsea robotics applications are numerous and demand is growing fast. Robotics firm Cybernétix, a subsidiary of Technip, is keenly aware of this. Its alliance with Marseille-based startup Notilo Plus could make France the leader in subsea inspection in harsh environments.

The young French firm Notilo Plus has been developing underwater drones since 2016, linked with an artificial intelligence system via an onboard computer. From the autonomous inspection of dams and the analysis of fauna or pollution by research organizations, to search operations and the technical inspection of offshore infrastructure or container ships’ hulls, the 500 Seasam robots already sold worldwide have revolutionized the subsea inspection industry, despite the initial technical challenge: GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth do not work in water more than five meters deep. Consequently, a fully autonomous underwater drone had to be invented.

In 2020, Notilo Plus was already generating 50% of its revenues abroad. The following year, it won the Maritime Innovator Award and was able to establish itself in the sector thanks to the financial and business support of the CMA CGM group, a leading container shipping firm

Over the past year, Notilo Plus has worked with Cybernétix to improve its underwater drone. The French-made drone is now an industry-leading solution designed specifically for offshore environments.

The new Seasam drone can accommodate all types of sensors (acoustic camera, metal thickness gauge, measurement probe, etc.). It can analyze data collected by artificial intelligence programs, made increasingly efficient by Machine Learning. Its ability to maintain its direction and stability in swell make it particularly suitable for use on the open sea.

Designed with industry in mind, it can be used to inspect underwater industrial assets such as oil rigs, offshore or floating wind turbines, and more generally, all submerged infrastructure to a depth of 100 meters. It has a battery life of one to four hours and can be used either in autonomous or wire-guided mode to provide real-time video feedback.

The partnership places La French Fab, the new name of the French industry, in a very strong position in this highly technical market, which was previously lacking in easy and affordable solutions for harsh environments. The drone is controlled using a simple video game-style joystick, which also reduces the human risk involved in offshore maintenance and inspection operations.

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